Congress Calls for Rerefining Study

The United States House of Representatives approved a bill last month calling on the Secretary of Energy to revamp a study about rerefining of used lubricating oil. Sponsored by U.S. Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN), House Resolution 1733 aims to delve into the environmental benefits and cost-effectiveness of rerefining.

The bill would set goals of increasing responsible used oil collection, informing the public of sustainable resuse options for used oil, and promoting sustainable resuse of used oil by federal agencies, recipients of federal grant funds, entities contracting with the federal government and the general public.

Photo: Avista Oil Refining and Trading USA

Working in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Secretary of Energy would need to review and update the original study within a year of the date of enactment.

Published in October 2006, the original study concluded that quality rerefining equipment was too expensive compared to the slim returns, causing the U.S. to lag behind several European countries in its use of recycled lubricants.

Without a firm control of the quantity, quality, and cost of the used oil volume needed to feed a rerefinery, it is very difficult to achieve the rates of return of investment that compensate for the risk taken by the rerefining industry, Juan Fritschy, CEO of Avista Oil Refining and Trading USA, said in an interview.

The studys authors, however, noted that due to time constraints they were unable to conduct original research and relied on dated information. Statistics on rerefining rates in the U.S., for example, came from a 1995 report, and cited 2002 figures on recycled oils for the European Union.

Since the last study was conducted in 2006, the used oil reefining capacity in the United States has increased, and the industry has matured, noted Michael Schorr, director of governmental and regulatory affairs at Avista Oil. The United States lags well behind other developed nations in the amount of used oil that is rerefined. Current federal studies and recommendations regarding the management of used oil are obsolete and are in need of an update.

Avista Oil, which has a rerefinery in Peachtree City, Georgia, has been an active supporter of the bill by meeting with officials on Capitol Hill, Schorr told Lube Report America.

Our country is already rerefining lubricated oil through a process which rids the oil of harmful contaminants and restores the oil to its original effectiveness, said Rep. Brooks. Some of the nations largest vehicle fleets use recycled oil for rerefining and procure rerefined oil, including the Department of Defense, the U.S. Postal Service and state and local authorities, she noted.

The U.S. has a capacity to produce about 150 barrels per day of API Group I rerefined base oil, 13,850 b/d of Group II rerefined oils and 400 b/d of Group III rerefined oils, according to the LubesnGreases 2017 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining.

Introduced in late March 2017, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Dec. 12, and the U.S. Senate received the bill on Dec. 13. In the Senate the bill is sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), and has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The full bill can be read here.